JF&CS News Summer 2012

Rimma ZelfandFor almost 150 years JF&CS has offered life-changing programs and services to an evolving community with ever changing needs. We have seen our programs make a tremendous difference to those in crisis - helping people feed their families, heat their homes, keep roofs over their heads, and so much more. Intuitively and anecdotally we know we are doing good.

But how good? And for how long? Are we doing the right things? We have decided to find the answers to these critical questions. In our 2010 strategic plan, we made a commitment to examine our work in a more rigorous way. We did this because we believe it is our obligation as a human service agency to spend every dollar that is entrusted to us in a judicious and prudent way. It is our goal to prove that every intervention makes a difference.

Challenging times call for transformational services that make an impact in a long-lasting, sustainable way. Our clients deserve it and our donors demand it. People come to us because they have no other place to go. With more profound change we can alleviate their immediate suffering and work with them so there won't be a next time. The ability to prove what we know instinctively, to make it explicit, is at the core of our mission to be a learning organization.

Last fall, we established a Performance and Quality Management department to tackle these issues. Led by Director Rachel Albert, MBA, MSW, this team is working with all of our programs to collect and analyze data to help us evaluate, refine, improve, and scale our services. Their work is integral to the agency and encompasses everything from designing feedback and assessment tools such as surveys, interviews, and focus groups, to synthesizing the results in a way that helps managers evaluate their programs.

One recent project involved analyzing five years of data collected by the JF&CS Lauren and Mark Rubin Visiting Moms® program to determine the program's impact on new mothers' self-confidence and rates of depression. The staff felt it was having good results, and was getting great feedback, but wanted to measure those results in a more precise way.

The outcome was exceptional. The analysis revealed that mothers who participated in the program enjoyed a statistically and substantively significant drop in depression, a meaningful improvement in maternal self-confidence, and had a very high level of satisfaction with the service overall. Visiting Moms has new evidence of its effectiveness and has gained valuable programmatic insights that will help it expand.

Now more than ever, the work we do is essential to helping people live as independently as possible while maintaining their dignity. I'm confident that our growing understanding will lead to even more profound and sustainable change for all those in need. I welcome your questions and comments as we pursue this exciting initiative!

For more information, call 781-647-JFCS (5327) or email your questions via our contact us page.